Cubs Notes: Bowa on Castro, Jackson, Mazzaro, and more opinions on platoon situation

Cubs Notes: Bowa on Castro, Jackson, Mazzaro, and more opinions on platoon situation

It's game day again, so we'll gather up some notes while we wait for the first pitch.

Bowa likes what he sees in Castro

If anyone knows what it takes to play SS, it's Larry Bowa.  He also knows what it's like to have a young phenom in his clubhouse (Shawon Dunston), so he's a pretty good guy to ask about Starlin Castro.  While Bowa thinks he needs work, he's a fan,

"I think sometimes, maybe because of his laid-back personality, maybe Dale thought: 'You know what, I am going to boot him in the butt,' " Bowa said. "I don't know the kid, so I don't know what buttons to push on him. I do know that just watching his skill set, when he is doing things right, he is fun to watch.

"He is a great athlete. Just watching him, it looks like mentally he's not into every pitch. He has got a good arm, he has got good range. Sometimes his feet don't move the way they should. He's a young kid; he has a chance to be special. But he has to get more consistent. It takes a lot of hard work to concentrate on every pitch."

Bowa brings up a good point about pushing the right buttons and the article makes it clear that Castro wasn't a fan of ex-manager Dale Sveum's style -- though Castro himself won't comment on it.  He prefers to talk about Rick Renteria.  Anyway, having spent most of my adult life as either a teacher or a corporate trainer, I agree with Bowa.  You have to know what buttons to push and not everyone responds to the same style.  Sveum never seemed to connect with the young SS -- but he never seemed to adapt when it wasn't working.   That inability to communicate with all of his players was perhaps the most disappointing aspect of Sveum's tenure.

Was Edwin Jackson a mistake?

That's the question Patrick Mooney presented in his piece today. It's too early to say, but Epstein had hinted at that -- but more in the sense that it may not have been the right timing and not about the player himself.  As I've mentioned, however, he fit the profile of what the Cubs will target in free agency -- under 30, no comp pick attacthment, and a track record.  I also said that that kind of player doesn't come along often and sometimes you have to strike when the opportunity presents himself.  This one just didn't work -- at least for one year.

We've had a couple of articles recently here that focused on the ability of Edwin Jackson to come back and at least pitch like the Edwin Jackson of old.  Ther is some optimism on that front from the Cubs as well, though it doesn't appear they still believe he can be a core piece.

“We’ll be the first ones to tell you: We’re not perfect,” Epstein said. “Given the situation, I think we could have been more patient. We certainly could have been more in line with the plan. That said, when there’s no pitching, you have to find pitching. Free agency can be a toss of the coin.

“We were really close to landing the two youngest, potentially very productive starting pitchers in free agency. One happened to have a year where he was third in the league in (ERA) and one happened to go out and have the worst year of his career. But we believe there’s a lot better ahead for Edwin Jackson.”

Personally, I think we'll see Jackson be the guy we've seen in recent years.  That's not going to be a star or a top of the rotation pitcher.  But if he can pitch 200 innings and put up an ERA in the high 3's or low 4's, I'll take it.

Vin Mazzaro clears waivers

It was a bit surprising because he pitched well for the Pirates last year.  He has been outrighted to their AAA club but he has 3 days to decide whether he wants to go there.  It's tough to say how interested the Cubs are -- after all, they did not attempt to claim him on waivers, but perhaps the Cubs can try and talk him into signing a minor league deal on a team where he may get a better opportunity.

Mazzaro is coming off a season in which he posted a 2.81 ERA (3.31 FIP) in 57 games (73.2 IP).  He doesn't miss a lot of bats 5.8 Ks/9 IP but showed solid control (2.57 BB/9 IP).  He's also entering his age 27 season.

On the other hand, the Cubs may just prefer to focus on bringing up their young power arms but Mazzaro may be a nice veteran pickup even if it's for AAA depth.


Cubs fans haven't been big fans of platooning young players like Mike Olt and Junior Lake and I've stated here more than once (most recently on Monday) that it doesn't bother me.  I just think the Cubs are trying to put those players in a situation where they can have success and that playing everyday isn't necessarily the answer for every rookie.  Carrie Muskat's article stated the same thoughts the other day and Brett Taylor from Bleacher Nation posted similar sentiments today.

With that in mind here is your Olt-less, Lake-less lineup...

Today's Lineup

1. Emilio Bonifacio, 2B

2. Ryan Kalish, LF

3. Anthony Rizzo, 1B

4. Nate Schierholtz, RF

5. Luis Valbuena, 3B

6. Starlin Castro, SS

7. Ryan Sweeney, CF

8. Welington Castillo, C

9. Edwin Jackson, P

Despite the lack of Mike Olt and Junior Lake, I've gone on record as saying I like this lineup, particularly because of the OBP skills of 4 of the first 5 players and the potential RBI opportunities for Schierholtz and Castro.

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  • I like to say good job john,felzz and the others for a great site(my favorite site). I like what bowa said about castro, it was fair but you know kap and his friends took it some where else and turned it into a negative.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I didn't hear Kap but totally agree Bowa's assessment was right on the money -- a balanced analysis.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Kap on his show on comcast took bowas comments as being critical of castro which I disagree. Then him and his panel got on castro, saying he should not be the shortstop and how he is a bust.

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    In reply to seankl:

    I hope they're watching the game tonight!

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    Sahadev Sharma had this to say on Olt, and I do think it's a fair point (for obvious reasons): What's great about this Olt topic is it isn't just meatballs on one side and rational people on the other. Solid points made on each side.

  • I agree John that I would like to see Olt and Lake succeed. But I really don't want them to succeed in hitting merely lefties. It is early April so it may change, but whether we should play Olt or Lake really doesn't depend (IMO) how good Valbuena or Sweeney performs; unless someone thinks either of these two will be a valuable member going forward, every game they play is a game we don't get to develop Lake and Olt.

    This will hurt others development as well. Suppose Villaneuva is dominating at AAA. Should he get called up in July? Not sure, because even if we trade Valbuena at that time, we still would not (assuming the platoon continues) have seen if Olt can play every day. If Bryant dominates and we want to bring him up next year, do we never see if Olt or Villaneuva can make it as an every day 3b?

    This is obviously a best case scenario problem, but I would much rather see if Olt and Lake can play every day than gamble that Sweeney or Valbuena play well enough for us to trade them for a middling prospect at the deadline.

  • Got the cubs on tv and kane county on the radio. Jen Ho Tseng sounding pretty good tonight, not getting hit hard and has a few strikeouts..Minor leagues really help soothe the pain when the cubs are playing poorly lol

  • What an AB by Castro, if only he could do that more often.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    hoping that he does.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    I was actually referring to his first AB, the second was nice as well.

  • John. You ready to give up on Jackson yet? Doesn't even give us a chance to battle and can't even lay a bunt down. This was a bad move by theo and Jed.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    No. I think Jackson will be the old Jackson this year

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Think again Jackson up to his old tricks. No command. His fastball is straight. He is a bum

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Bad far. There are a lot of games to play, and a good year from Jackson is what will be remembered in a "what have you done for me lately" league.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    What has he done lately, ever tho? Jackson has showed what he is and that is a innings eater at a back end of rotation. Terrible signing. Embarrassing

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    We paid for an innings eater at the back end of rotation and that is what we got. How is that a terrible signing?

  • In reply to John57:

    Not sure we wanted him at back of rotation. Cubs were hoping for a solid 2. We severely over paid for that but did receive 18 losses for that.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    Who else could we have signed for that type of contract?

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    The cubs have been very careful on how they spend money. Except on Jackson. If no one was available then don't over spend. It just wasn't a good deal for a 4-5 starter.

  • In reply to WaitTilNextYear:

    No one on the Cubs were thinking he was a solid 2. No one. Hind sight is 20/20. Do you think you can do better than Theo and Jed?

  • In reply to John57:

    I believe the cubs thought they could fix Jackson and make him a number 2. Especially with the pitching rotation we have. If you go back to last year when we signed him u will see I have never liked the deal. Not hind sight. Think about this if we would of signed Jackson for 10-15 million less. We could have used that extra cash toward tanka. That might make better then theo or Jed.

  • In reply to John57:

    For the same reason everyone wanted Castro's head last week, because he's doing bad in one game and that means blood for some people. No one was complaining Jackson's last start.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    I didn't want Castro head. I think he is rusty and needed to be lowered in line up. As long as Castro hustles and plays hard I can live with ups and downs. I think Baez and Castro can be in same line up. I just don't like the fact that we severely over paid for Jackson.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    Um, I'm not quite sure what you're asking.

    We all know what he's done lately. You just wrote him off as a bad signing. He may wind up being worse than what the Cubs expected for the full length of his contract, but we're about 27% into it. If you're ready to assume he will be bad for the rest of it, be my guest.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    My point is Jackson has always been a back end guy who has been around .500 on good teams. And to gamble with that kind of money was foolish. U say he is 27% into contract. There is a reason he has been on do many teams in a short time. We should not be shocked that he is 8-19 with cubs. If it pans out I will b first to say I was wrong but until then. We are stuck with this.

  • Yes. Come on Jackson hold it for us

  • Oh my goodness...I've never seen castro watch a home run his swag back??

  • In reply to brentcarmona:

    i think he watched it to make sure it stayed fair.

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    You might be right, didn't notice that..but man he looked damn happy he connected with authority on that pitch

  • In reply to CubfanInUT:

    That may be a part of it, but he definitely was watching it stay fair with a glimmer of admiration.

  • In reply to brentcarmona:

    He looked like he was angry with that baseball.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    That's a five game hit streak for Castro now (8-for-18). I noticed a very familiar, pretty looking swing when he connected on that double the other day. Same swing on that HR.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    He looks like the old Castro -- with a bit more plate discipline. That could be a fun player.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    Agreed - couple the 'old' Castro more than capable of hitting ~0.290-0.300, with ~15-20 HR power, and some plate discipline - we've got a bargain for the remainder of his contract.

    And - that sort of production will play well even IF they decide to move him to 2B if Beaz actually is the SS of our future.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    You and talked about this. We both expected some of the "discipline" to stick... I like what I'm seeing with him so far.

  • In reply to John Arguello:

    righties have no chance against morton !!!

  • I do want to see Olt play more and against righties and lefties, but it doesn't have to happen right away. Let's put him out there in the best situations to succeed. I want the Cubs to play to win in the early going, not for development. Once they're out of it, then they can play Olt for the purposes of his development. Renteria should play the match-ups and the hot hand right now. Later on, depending on their record, the priorities may shift.

  • In reply to Quedub:

    I agree. It may increase the potential trade value of some of the other guys to flip and open positions for the youngsters. I just believe that some players would benefit from the success found in situational starts (confidence building) over the sink or swim mentality behind playing every day. Specifically for Olt who needs to continue to build confidence.

  • What I like from castro's swing is he is turning on the fastball. That double he hit off burnett was 93, last year I don't know if he catches up to it.

  • nice play on that groundball castro

  • CASTRO!!!!

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    Amazing game by Castro on both sides of the ball. On that second homer he looked like a guy who could easily hit 15-20hrs a year. First one was more a line drive but he launched number 2 like a power hitter.

    Also really like what i've seen from Rizzo as well on both sides of the ball. Defense has been GG quality and the bat is coming around nicely. He's even hanging in there against lefties. Good to see.

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    Make that 25-30

  • In reply to Marcel Jenkins:

    He's been the star of this game.

  • Hannemann is playing like he's ready to advance anytime the brass is ready to send Almora to AA.

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    i would think if BJax doesnt turn it around quickly then there will be some upward outfielder mobility coming.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    That was my thought tonight, but he had a decent game yesterday and there's no great hurry to cut him least for a month or two. All the same, he does have a "dead man walking" vibe about him (and I am really, really wanting him to succeed).

  • In reply to Eldrad:

    i too hope bjax succeeds but at this point its not likely he is going to make it. thus is the tragedy of prospects (its a who's next mentality) hopefully not but we could be saying the same about Baez 2 years from now.

  • In reply to bleachercreature:

    The stat geeks will find something that backs Jackson up. His FIP will be really good or something as he continues to get hit hard.

  • In reply to Cubbies:

    i agree about the stat geeks but we were talking about brent jackson
    (which is pretty irrelevant) releasing Jackson would move siIva to iowa because I do want to see Almora in CF for TN and Henneman in CF for Daytona so Dunston can play CF for Kane County

  • In reply to Cubbies:

    The world of advanced stats are here to stay and they're used by the best teams and front offices in baseball. Better get used to it.

    That said, there's nothing to defend about Jackson today. Lacked command, kept the ball up and got hit hard because of it.

  • way to go Rizzo.. Loved how Rizzo is fighting for contact in his AB's

  • Making the platoons look silly tonight. Our righties hitting their righties and our lefties hitting their lefties.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    that is good. we are probably confusing them.

  • RHP Duane Underwood @dlunderwood94 has told the CCO that he is in town & will be added to the @KCCougars roster

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Effing great news. I hope to see him pitch on MILB TV next week or in May.

  • In reply to SouthsideB:

    Great news. Thanks for the post, Southside!

  • So everyone who was all over Veras following one bad outing, are you done with Strop now too? Or how does that work..

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    Ha! Tell me about it. It's the same thing every April.

  • give em hell Rick! :D

  • I agree with Bowa's assessment even though I'm not a huge Bowa guy. Somewhat proven today. Seems like only Starlin can get three hits, 2 of them big homers, make two really nice plays and still find a way to stick a knife in his team by not catching a one hopper (albeit a little bit of tweener) to complete the strike 'em out throw 'em out in the 8th. I AM a Starlin guy but those are routine in the Big Leagues and it makes me want to throw up.

    Jackson does not make us a markedly better team than Grimm, Rusin, Hendricks, etc would if they were in his place and pitching relatively for free.

  • In reply to Ben20:

    There's no way any of the three could be expected to go 200 innings this year. None of them have before and the large inning increase from one season to the next is almost sure to cause injury damage. Those three would be more suited to sliding into the five spot and spending one season easing in before they take the spot of an innings eater, which is what Jackson is for the most part.

  • In reply to nmu’catsbball:

    On board with you there. I get it, and wouldn't expect any of those guys to pitch 200 innings. How about if I rephrase and say that if all of those 4 guys including Jackson threw 148.2 innings, I don't see any sign of a guarantee that Jackson would make the Cubs any better of a team than a young, hungry guy getting his shot would.

    Also, excluding the opening week, usually the week after the break, and the post season, 4th, 5th...those are just numbers. Travis Wood is pitching in the four hole even though he's not our fourth best starter. What the 4 and 5 slot usually mean is two or three fewer starts.

    I guess my overall point is that we have other talented (albeit somewhat unproven), cheaper, younger guys to eat those innings and it's rather unfortunate that he's making what he's making since its not that easy to bench a guy like that.

    "Innings eater" is another term for average starting pitcher. The minor leagues are littered with future/potential average starting pitchers.

  • ...also, while I like Olt, I need to see as much Luis Valbuena as possible. When you combine offense, defense, and general approach, he has a case for being one of our top 3 players in my eyes. Huge fan.

  • I like when renteria was ejected barney gave him a fist bump. I have a feeling the players really like playing for him.

  • In reply to seankl:

    I saw that too, Sean and liked it as much as you did. I like Renteria a ton and can also see DB managing and doing a nice job 20 years from now.

  • Veras looked pretty good. Good control of his fastball.

    Edwin looks like a pitcher badly in need of a decent change-up, something off-speed. Just fastballs and sliders isn't going to be enough after one trip through the opposition's lineup.

    I saw the fist bump too from a player who's on the bench for now. The players seem to appreciate him. Renteria sure seems a lot more positive.

  • I they're not going to play Olt, send him to the minors so he can get regular AB's.

    I hate this platoon. I'd rather see Olt, Valbuena and Bonafacio in the lineup every day and have Barney and Sweeney play when someone needs a day off. If Olt doesn't perform after an extended period of playing every day, then send him to AAA for more seasoning.

    How are the Cubs gonna know what to do with Baez if they don't know what Olt can do? Or are they gonna platoon Baez too?

    I get ill just thinking about that possibility...

  • John,

    I think the Cubs might be Not Playing Olt because of the brisk weather affecting his shoulder. Think that's it?

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